Wilfried Zaha targeted by racist abuse online ahead of Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace

Winger highlighted the sickening messages he received from someone appearing to be an Aston Villa fan

Tom Kershaw
Sunday 12 July 2020 14:10 BST
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Wilfried Zaha was targeted by racist abuse online
Wilfried Zaha was targeted by racist abuse online (AP)

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha was subjected to a series of racially abusive messages prior to the club’s Premier League fixture against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Sharing a series of screenshots online, Zaha highlighted the scale of sickening online abuse he had received ahead of the match, appearing to be from a Villa supporter.

One post included an image of the white supremacist hate group, the Ku Klux Klan, and a message that read: ‘’You better not score tomorrow your black c*** or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost.’’

Crystal Palace immediately released a statement in response to the messages: “This is an absolute disgrace and should not be happening. We stand with you, Wilf, and anyone else who has to suffer such horrific abuse.’’

West Midlands Police said they are investigating the perpetrator. “Hi Wilfried, we are looking into who the owner of this account is and would encourage you to report it to your local police force too,” a statement read on Twitter.

Speaking ahead of the game at Villa Park, Hodgson said he supported Zaha’s call to make the direct messages public, as well as condemning the content of them.

“I think it’s important,” he said in a pre-match interview with Sky Sports. “I think it is being highlighted very much anyway with the Black Lives Matter movement, and everyone seems to be making such an effort to eradicate this type of behaviour.

“It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse. I think it is right that Wilf made people aware of it; I don’t think it is something he should keep quiet about.

“I think it is very good that our club, Aston Villa and the Premier League are doing everything they can to find out who this despicable individual is and one can only hope that they will get identified and they will get called to account and they will pay for these actions. There is literally no excuse; there is no excuse at all.”

The Premier League also released a statement following the match: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Premier League stands alongside Wilfried Zaha in opposing this, and discrimination in any form. There is #NoRoomForRacism, anywhere.

“We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse.

“Through our dedicated reporting system we can take immediate action on cases like this.”

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